Our pets are more likely to feel the effects of arthritis during the colder weather, so as winter approaches, now is a good time for an arthritis check with us. Most of the signs of arthritis are subtle and you may not even realise your pet is in pain.
Arthritis is characterised by the loss of the smooth cartilage that covers the bones at the end of a joint. This cartilage usually helps joints move freely and comfortably but, over time, the ends of the bones become exposed and rub together. This can cause considerable pain and really affect your pet’s quality of life.
Your pet may not necessarily have a limp and won’t yelp or cry out in pain. You should watch out for the following signs:
- Trouble jumping up on to furniture or into the boot of the car
- Stiff and sore especially in the morning or after lying down
- Sleeping more and lying around for longer periods of time
- Changes in behaviour such as being more grumpy than usual
- Muscle loss along the spine and down the legs
- Hesitant to jump down from your lap or from furniture
- Land in a heap when jumping down
- Reluctant to climb
- Reduced grooming leading to a poorly kept coat and matted fur
- Long nails due to inactivity
Don’t be tempted to put these changes down to ‘just getting old’ as your pet may be in significant pain. Arrange a checkup with us so we can examine your pet thoroughly.
What are the treatment options for arthritis?
If your pet has been diagnosed with arthritis don’t despair. There are multiple ways we can treat the disease and help your pet live a longer and more comfortable life.
The key to managing the disease is a multi-targeted approach. If we use a combination of treatments it can help reduce the need for large amounts of medication and lessen the potential side effects of any one treatment.
Some of the treatments might include:
- Disease-modifying drugs
Given as a regular injection, these help to relieve pain and help to preserve joint cartilage. They can also improve the joint fluid meaning the joints are better lubricated and more comfortable when they move. They can be given as weekly, monthly or tri-monthly injections.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
These help to reduce pain and inflammation. They can be given short term but may be needed for the rest of your pet’s life (as long as we monitor your pet’s kidney and liver function). They can be given in conjunction with other pain-reducing drugs. Never give human pain relief medication to your pet.
- Diets formulated for joint health
A diet high in essential fatty acids (with added nutriceuticals as discussed below) may help reduce inflammation, decrease pain and improve your pet’s mobility. Prescription joint diets can also help keep your pet in a healthy weight range meaning there is less weight on your pet’s joints. Ask us about the specific prescription diets we have available for joint health.
Fish oil and green lipped mussel contain high levels of Omega-3 and may help reduce inflammation and pain. Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin may improve joint function and slow down the progression of arthritis. Human supplements are not appropriate for our pets so it is best to ask us for the best nutriceutical for your pet.
If your pet has arthritis, we are here to help and will come up with a treatment plan and work with you to ensure your pet lives a happy and comfortable life.